Saturday, July 4, 2009

"I Am BEOWULF..." And A Chump

Just watched the Bob Zemeckis version of Beowulf starring a bunch of folks dressed up like cartoons. I have to say I was fairly impressed...right up until the story deviates into left field with Beowulf becoming a chump.

Not that I didn't like the whole Neil Gaiman twist with the dragon being Beowulf's bastard offspring (I've always loved the whole Arthur-Modred dynamic...sometime I'll have to write about how I worked it into MY old AD&D campaign). That was great, and it's no great shakes to me that 'Wulfie dies from spewing blood loss rather than envenomed wounds. Cinematic license, you know?

But he totally rolls over for Grendel's mother? And she survives all the "heroes?" looks like she's gearing up to nest her plans again with ol' Wiglaf? Totally lame.

After watching all the "special feature" commentary (yes, I'm one of THOSE people), I wasn't quite as miffed as I was at the end of the movie. I have a lot o respect for what they did and how they used the "performance capture" technology, as well as how they adapted the story. Still and all, though, I would have preferred to see Angelina get decapitated at SOME point in the film...hell, I was looking forward to it, through the whole movie (perhaps THAT was the main disappointment).

What a chump.

Anyway, I think Zemeckis is right on when he says this type of film making can be used for those stories that shouldn't be told live action and shouldn't be told animated. Certainly shouldn't be used for children's stories (for example, the ultra-creepy Polar Express)...but I can definitely see it as an excellent platform for, say, Elric of Melnibone. Its a short step from the gilded halls of Heorot to the spires of the Dreaming City. And if 3D rendering could do justice to the likes of Beowulf and Elric, how about a REAL D&D film...say, one about White Plume Mountain and Blackrazor? Enough with these SciFi channel actors with the fake ears, already...let's make D&D the surreal drama it's supposed to be!

And this time, we'll make sure SOME monster gets decapitated.


  1. I had similar feelings about this. Movie was entertaining up until B gets all sissy by the end.

  2. Just saw the film yesterday morning. I enjoyed it well enough despite the departures (at least grendel wasn't an invisible xenomorph living on another planet).

    In that film Beowulf does sort of wimp out in older life...oh bwaha...I got everything I ever wanted ...poor me...

  3. *spoiler* Wiglaf don't like girls. ;)

    Using mo-capped Serkius folk for an Elric movie (or for KEW's Kane, or Dying Earth, or John Carter of Mars, or...) would kill any appeal it might have for me. The constant 'uncanny valley' element of the characters in 300wulf was a real immersion-killer. It was like having a constant "This is CGI!" station ident in the corner of the screen.

  4. Chris, I see your point...and I'd much rather have a live action albino riding the back of a Melnibonean dragon while brandishing Stormbringer over his head. But I sure would prefer motion-capture to animation!